We woke early on Friday, knowing we had a 75 mile day down to Kingston. It was strange to pack up and leave without Cindy and Paul, but they were sleeping in and then planning to walk about Albany as they got ready for a 7:00 pm train departure back to St. Paul. So it was back to Dan and Lisa on our own. We were on our bikes by 7:45 am.
One thing we’ve learned is that when you leave a river town, you’ll go uphill. We rode across a big bridge and up the hill on the east side of the Hudson River. Soon, we were riding through the Hudson Valley, through towns like East Chatham, North Chatham , South Chatham (but not Old Chatham, sadly.)
The countryside was glorious and a little “horsey.” Though clearly not everyone appreciated the bikers coming through. We were riding on the Albany Hudson Electric Trail, a former electrified trolley line which connected the local villages in the first few decades of the twentieth century. There were lakes and streams and forests and hills and it was very beautiful.
We dodged clouds and rain all day, and it was both hot and hilly! We were in our granny gears (lowest) many times, and we had to walk up a few hills. When we got down to Hudson, we saw the Catskills across the river and really felt like we were in the mountains. At one point, we’d been sure we would ride up to Woodstock, home of Bearsville Records, The Band and Levon Helm’s barn shows, including the recent album by Levon and Mavis Staples. We couldn’t find a place to stay there and as I looked over to the mountains, realized that there was no way we could have ridden bikes up there.
We got pretty hungry and thirsty – it was hot and we’d been out for hours. Fortunately, we came upon Germantown and Otto’s, a localvore grocery/deli and were able to get sandwiches, water and Lisa’s mid afternoon lemonade.
This day was largely on country roads, mostly with very little traffic. At one point, though, we found ourselves on a trail in the woods. It felt to me like the most desolate place we’d been on this trip – we were alone and did not see anyone for miles. And then I sort of suddenly came out of the woods and was in a “Bard” parking lot. I wasn’t sure where we were. I turned a corner and saw this amazing building and thought immediately “Frank Gehry.” (Lisa and I were married in the Weismann Museum in Minneapolis, a great example of Gerry’s metallic architectural style.)
We had entered the campus of Bard College. I rode up to the building and stopped, then noticed Lisa was talking to a fellow. He was Paul, a soccer is coach at the college who was interested in cycling and who offered us some cold water. We chatted about Bard and he told us that Steely Dan (Walter Becker and Donald Fagan) had formed there and that their song “My Old School” was about Bard (“California tumbles into the sea/
That’ll be the day I go back to Annandale”)
“You’re in Annandale!” he said.
The Bard campus was huge – based on that alone, I’d certainly have considered it. Also, maybe I’d have been a rock star.
We rode south to the lovely town of Tivoli and south to the Kingston Rhinebeck bridge, which would take us back to the west side of the river, now wide and grand. The bridge favored cars and trucks, though there was a smallish bike lane, and though there were signs prohibiting stopping, I had to quickly stop and snap a couple photos. It was impressive and scary and beautiful.
On the other side of the river, we still had five miles to ride into Kingston, which turned out to be a really cool (hilly) town, with lots of neat buildings and businesses. We came in along the river and had to climb up the hill yet again to get to our very basic Super 8. On the way we stopped by a bookstore that Lisa has admired called Rough Draft, which has both books and … draft beer. After a long day of biking, there is hardly a better feeling than arriving at your destination especially when it is a place that has the things we need – cold beer and cool people.
We stayed at the bookstore for a while, then rode the last few blocks to our hotel. After asking for a vacuum cleaner so we could neaten the room a little, we showered and walked back to dinner under a tree. Our conversation: tomorrow is going to be around 100 miles, south to Elmsford, how soon should we start in the morning?.